Dayton City Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance effectively banning panhandling along many major roadways in Dayton.
The new law prohibits pedestrians from coming within three feet of an operating vehicle on 51 busy roadways in the city. It would also penalize motorists who slow down or deviate from traffic lanes to interact with pedestrians.
At the meeting, commissioners said the ordinance is an effort to improve safety and reduce crashes. They cited Dayton Police Department data, which revealed more than 600 pedestrian strikes have been reported in the city in the last decade.
Activists who showed up to the meeting weren’t buying that explanation.
“I don’t think they really care about people’s safety," said Joshua Petry, one of several residents who spoke out against the measure. "I think they just don’t want rich people to have to see these homeless people when they go downtown.”
Petry says he feels the ordinance does not address the underlying problems that contribute to panhandling, like the lack of affordable housing.
Before voting to pass the ordinance, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said the city is committed to addressing chronic homelessness and substance abuse. And she said, the commission has explored other ways to cut down on panhandling.
“We have tried to offer these people jobs," said Whaley. "Some of these people don’t want to work. And frankly, some are making more money on that corner than they would be for a wage.”
The city has passed panhandling related ordinances three times in recent years. One of those ordinances was subsequently repealed after legal challenges.
Those found violating the new law will be charged with a fourth degree misdemeanor, which could result in up $250 in fines and up to 30 days in jail.